Although you may not know it, TimeSplitters 2 is actually GoldenEye 2, but it?s a secret. The team that created GoldenEye, without question the best console FPS to date, left Rare half way through the development of the comparatively mediocre Perfect Dark to set up a new company as the PlayStation 2 era dawned.
That company is Free Radical Design and its first offering, TimeSplitters, is one of the most overlooked titles ever seen on a games system. Built from the ground up using raw machine code, TimeSplitters achieved the impossible. Launching alongside the European PS2, it featured anti-aliased environments, no pop-up and a level of design fetishism never before seen on the Sony machine.
Although sales were not as high as were perhaps expected, Eidos carried the belief that an unrushed, big-marketing-spend, multi-format sequel was worth the investment. Anyone privileged enough to have spent any time with the game?s creators, Steve Ellis and David Doak could have told you that years ago.
TimeSplitters 2 has the one thing that made the original somewhat unpopular with the gaming masses: a deep, rich and dedicated single-player mode. Built from the carcass of a thousand ideas that were obviously spawned between the game?s gold date and the old Rare days, TS2 fits the skin admirably, and works the bones well too.
From the outset, the message that intentionally leaks from the game is ?we are back.?? Level one, set within the musty confines of a Siberian dam, makes a direct and uncompromising statement. You played GoldenEye. You loved GoldenEye. This is better.
TimeSplitters 2 has everything you could ever want or need in a videogame. The story mode is brilliant, seeing related missions span over 500 years, from the dusty basins of mid-west USA, to future planetscapes being overrun by aliens. The scenery and setting is irrespective however, as the fluid, dynamic of the game engine soon over-powers the senses, embracing the player, the controller and the game into a fused and focussed oneness.
Free Radical Design, arguably the inventor of the modern day options screen, has surpassed itself with TimeSplitters 2. Everything is open to change and suggestion, leaving the player, equipped with level editing tools, to essentially design, tamper, tinker and redesign to his content. A rewards system gifts further, wackier options, ala GoldenEye.
Nothing is missing from TS2, with the detailed, dedicated multiplayer section excelling itself and again surpassing expectation and a dipping industry standard.
Now, although TimeSplitters for GameCube is built largely around the same code as the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions, the Free Radical Design team was dragged into the next-gen world as a dedicated Nintendo developer and it shows. Buy TimeSplitters 2. Buy three extra controllers. Get three friends involved and relive a console experience not seen since the heady days of GoldenEye.
Forget Perfect Dark, this is Perfect game.